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Poll: Is cloud computing or mobile having a bigger impact in 2011?

The two hottest topics in technology in 2011 are mobile and the cloud. We'd like to get a real world perspective on which one is the bigger innovation driver. Answer the poll and join the discussion.

When we talk to businesses and technology professionals about their top priorities and concerns for 2011, the two topics that come up again and again are cloud computing and mobile computing (smartphones and tablets).

That shouldn't surprise anyone. If you scan the tech news headlines, at almost any moment you'll find up to half of all the headlines relate back to those two topics in one way or another. The fact that so many people are devouring information on these topics is a pretty reliable future indicator of the stuff businesses are going to be adopting in the years ahead.

Nevertheless, we'd like to get some feedback from technology professionals on which of these two are having the biggest impact on their companies in 2011. As always, we want the real world perspective here at TechRepublic. We realize that these two topics are actually related in some cases. Companies are often attracted to the cloud so that employees can access apps and/or data from anywhere and any device, including mobile devices. And, professionals who rely on smartphones or tablets to do their work want easy ways to connect to corporate systems, and the cloud can simplify the process. That said, we'd like to know which one is the tail and which one is the dog. Is the cloud or mobile a bigger factor in driving innovation and change in your organization in 2011?

Please respond to the poll and then jump into the discussion and let us know why you answered the way you did.

Take the poll

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

23 comments
davidharrelson
davidharrelson

I agree (Mobility) is key, more so than just being in the "Cloud". For us at Techtoolbox, we know more and more companies are looking to cut costs by eliminating the "in-house" server farms and all the admin that goes along with it. Truth is, it???s just the old finance game of changing from an unknown cost model to a known cost model hard at work. If you???ve been around long enough you saw the opposite move to distributive computing when Local Area Networks sprang onto the scene in the early 90's. Prior to that, everything was centralized. What we see now is a hybrid of sort because inside the cloud things are still distributed but overall the IT department is becoming more and more centralized, just look at cisco's UCS systems. As the cost for hardware has steadily dropped we see companies investing in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity more than ever before. This is a sure sign of the drop in technology costs. The cost of redundancy, which was a big luxury item for years, is suddenly in reach for the masses do to technology convergence and virtualization. Now what's needed are good tools that reach into the cloud for remote management and administration. System Admins are no longer going to be able to park a chair in front of the Rack and sit there until the problem is resolved. The old methods of tunneling in are not going to get it anymore. Only the true web based tools are going to rule in the coming years. Our product "Keck" is a real example of a web based secure Active Directory management tool that enables the "Cloud" to seem a little closer. There are others coming on the scene too which enable Admins to management virtually every server side function imaginable. RDC will only get you so far in a pinch and some companies block RDC entirely. Bottom line, Admins are going to demand more and more tools like Keck to get their work done quickly, keep the red cape on and maintain their title of computer Super Guru. David Harrelson TTB

wwwlaptopbatterystorecomau
wwwlaptopbatterystorecomau

That shouldn???t surprise anyone. If you scan the tech news headlines, at almost any moment you???ll find up to half of all the headlines relate back to those two topics in one way or another. The fact that so many people are devouring information on these topics is a pretty reliable future indicator of the stuff businesses are going to be adopting in the years ahead. http://www.laptopbattery-store.com.au

tony
tony

Cloud just basically means that the app and/or data are out there somewhere and you don't know where. However, you also don't know necessarily what the controls are. Thus, there is "public cloud" and "private cloud". Using the public cloud you can decide how much or little to expose, but it is hard to know if you have got this right - a bit like knowing if you have locked your facebook account down enough.

Abhay Mittal
Abhay Mittal

The greatest competition b/w all the leading tech companies of present time is not about networking; it's most about mobile operating systems. Mobiles of this age have defeated computers in the field of competition. Does anyone suggest Google, or Microsoft to show attention towards cloud computing? Abhay Mittal abmakm@yahoo.in

journyman
journyman

My immediete thought was that mobile trumps cloud in terms of impact, however mobile computing is itself relient on cloud services that are getting up and running so well and as such I think the cloud to be me pervasive and therefore making a bigger difference to the landscape. Just think for a second: on my mobile everyday I: Check my email via cloud services; or Access and modify documents using dropbox; or Use mapping functionality to figure where I am; or Use Google latitude to see where my friends are; or Update and check Facebook to let people know what I am doing. Many of these things I wouldn't be doing if I didn't have a smart phone of course but heres the rub. Without the cloud infrastructure already there my smartphone would just be a normal phone with a couple of extra bells and whistles. With the cloud it has become an integral part of life!

bellrm
bellrm

I think the answer to this depends on where you are in an organisation. Within the IT department, Cloud is definitely having an impact on IT systems location and provision, but to any one working with the business end users, mobile in the sense of devices, applications/applets and access are the big talking points; I've yet to speak to a business user who even bothers to ask if the applets on their device are cloud-based - to them everything beyond the device in their hand is 'in the cloud'. Cloud is largely a concern of the IT department of how they provision the needed business services. As for 'You can't have mobile without cloud', I fell off my chair laughing. I've been doing mobile/remote computing since the 1980's! albeit the device now fits in my pocket, has a battery that lasts most of the day and I can use it (practically) anywhere I can get 3G/Wifi whereas in the 80's the device was larger and access was largely restricted to dial modems over fixed lines and as for battery life forget it!

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

My experience has been that the value/viability of a technology is inversely related to the number of times it shows up in the popular literature outlets- the more hype being published, the less viable the technology. Interestingly, the same with movies- the best movies are generally those you have never heard of, not the ones with the highest advertising budget... Mabile wins because people are actually selling a lot of devices (it is not clear whether the purchasers are using them as intended, however). "Cloud Computing" is just a weird way to repackage old technology- the marketers have run out of new schemes to separate us from our resources...

applejosh
applejosh

I picked mobile, if only because the use of mobile devices (iOS, Android) is driving users to put and use data from the "cloud." I don't think the users with whom I interact would care about "cloud" if they didn't have the mobile devices they do. The "cloud" is only in the discussion when users want an easy way to use their devices to get at information.

coolcash4live
coolcash4live

This is a tough challenge but i think cloud computing is still the best in my own view....

TGGIII
TGGIII

Cloud is location. Mobile is function. I picked mobile.

kerump
kerump

I voted cloud... simply because it has to be there before you can have mobile. A mobile device without access to a service is a brick. If a business has already provided access, then the innovation will be in mobile. But a lot of businesses don't provide the access, so for them the innovation needs to be in cloud. Meanwhile, as referenced in other posts, there are plenty of concerns to be addressed before either of them becomes adequately trusted.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

You do not need the cloud. That is what "they" want you to think. I think that a mobile computing platform can be very useful for offline tasks. Calculation, data collection, word processing and even entertainment. I know we all live in the Web 2.0 world but don't forget the roots. A computer is just the unholy prodigy of a typewriter, calculator and a tv who got impregnated by a telephone. (I love rediculous over-simplification) I call it... The Teletypecalcuvision.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

Spitfire-Sysop- What a fantastic definition of a computer! But I think it is the TV that did the impregnating... Can I steal your quote?

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Will you be making money off of this usage? I actually have some humorous uses for this Teletypecalcuvision. If you are someone who could help me develop a product I think I have an original idea.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Teletypecalcuvision is a registered trademark of Spitfire_Sysop.

Screaming_Chicken
Screaming_Chicken

"Is cloud computing or mobile having a bigger impact in your company in 2011?" That is, until some clueless executive gets convinced by media saturation and/or sales pitches that this is something that we simply "must" do.

sfox
sfox like.author.displayName 1 Like

There's no doubt that Mobile is receiving bigger press coverage than Cloud this year, especially given the OS/App battle between Apple and Google and the emergence of Pad devices. And Cloud is the perfect term for a concept with such a fluffy and woolly range of definitions. For my part, I define Cloud in all its various permutations and offerings as covering all "On Demand" computational resources served over the Internet that range from remote data storage, to social media (including Apps served to mobiles!) to SaaS/PaaS systems. Nevertheless defined as such and behind the scenes, I believe that Cloud computing is having a markedly greater impact on the Worldwide information environment, particularly in business, than mobile. The potential consequences of Cloud, both good and bad, are equally great.

serbdeep.singh.nezar
serbdeep.singh.nezar

For me cloud is concept. Mobile is a equipment thru which you can take the benefit of cloud computing.

peternmimurray
peternmimurray like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 7 Like

To me, "cloud" is a mostly meaningless buzzword that dresses up remote access in a tuxedo. Owning vs. renting infrastructure is not new. Users have been doing remote computing for years - it just doesn't work as well as a local app. Mobile apps that expand access to more remote apps regardless of platform what is changing. I should be able to do what I want and need to do with my stuff (apps) regardless of where apps and data live or where I am. The limitation for unified access to apps and data is our woefully inadequate WAN. Latency, lack of bandwidth and inadequate IP implementation (security, address space, flow control, etc.) are what's holding everything back. We need to solve that problem to help remote computing work properly.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

It happens in every industry. If people don't like your idea just make a euphemism for it. Pretend it is new and different. WAN speed does vary wildly in America due to our physical size. Mobile tech works better in some neighborhoods than in others. I hear that the goobermint is subsidizing WAN infrastructure upgrades in remote locations.

Julia.Hengstler
Julia.Hengstler like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Isn't that a bit of a chick v. egg argument? In many cases the one is highly dependent on the other. The fact that mobile technology is evolving in power & capabilities is due in a large part to applications & services that run in the cloud allowing mobile users to untether themselves from a desktop--or even laptop unit. For example, cloud storage services mean that mobile devices don't have to carry a lot of onboard storage--we just access it from the cloud. That cuts us free of a box with GBs of storage. I don't think you can really separate one from the other with a great deal of exactitude as they are mutually dependent--a mutually reinforcing development & use cycle.

ebonstorm
ebonstorm like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

What worries me the most is both of them are adding to an ailing infrastructure vastly in need of further development. The internet infrastructure, which is at the core of all of the technologies being developed today has almost been forgotten in the "Gold Rush" dash to claim the new tablet/handheld space being opened up or the potential of the virtualized, IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS cloud domains which offer new ways of turning IT into a commodity which can be sold in-lieu of being bought by companies. Mobile computing is putting demands on the telecom networks that while they all want the clients, they have been unable to meet their needs effectively. Meanwhile the cloud is exploding everywhere with multiple implementations, various protocols, diverse SLAs and very little in the way of standards. Both of these technologies are rushing headlong into development when serious issues of the underlying infrastructure have yet to be resolved. Those issues include: IP implementation of mobile devices, conversion of the underlying internet from IP4 to IP6, redefining security toward a trust structure in order to reduce spam and malware attacks which are ever-increasing and we are becoming more helpless to prevent them even as we find new ways of networking ourselves. These are just a few of my basic concerns in this regard. I am sure you have talked about them in great length. Just wanted to share. Thaddeus Howze @ebonstorm http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com